As I am a history freak, let’s start with a bit of history of Corvey. Emperor Charlemagne fought against the Saxon tribes for over 30 years. Once these fights were over and he was victorious, he decided it was high time to Christianise the pagan Saxons and bring the light of civilisation to them.

A set of bishoprics has been erected and monasteries were to follow them. The death of the emperor delayed the process, but it was continued by his son Louis the Pious who founded the first abbey on the Weser river in northern Germany in 815. The monks came from the Corbie abbey in Picardy and founded an abbey called Nova Corbeia which was later transcripted to Corvey.

The first abbot was the cousin of Charlemagne – Adelard. He became known as the Apostle of Scandinavia. Before he moved up far north he founded the abbey school which became one of the most important monastic schools in Northern Germany.

The Abbey acquired the remains of Saint Vitus, who was believed to cure against epilepsy. This constituted a never ending crowd of pilgrims who helped made the Abbey very rich and powerful.

A new church was built in the second half of the ninth century. It’s westwerk (the front wall of the Church built in the Romanesque style) has been created then and stays intact until nowadays. It is a magnificent piece of art and in 2014 UNESCO has inscribed it on its World Heritage List.

The abbey continued to gain importance and has been declared an imperial abbey, responsible directly to the German emperor.

Reformation hit the abbey hard, but it continued to exist as an independent Catholic micro state sandwiched between the much larger Protestant Princedoms of Brunswick and Hesse-Kassel.

The abbey is older even than Germany itself


It lost its independence during the Napoleonic wars and after the Treaty of Vienna in 1815 it became a part of Prussia. The former Abbey was given to the Prussian aristocratic Hohenlohe family who acquired the title of Princes of Ratibor and Corvey and transformed the abbey into a palace. It remains their property till today.

The Abbey was known of its famous library, which continued to thrive during the 19th century as well. One of its librarians was the German poet August Heinrich von Fallersleben, who is the author of the German anthem. He is buried in the church graveyard.

The castle hosts a very good restaurant which we enjoyed after the long and cold winter walk outside. Before however we went to warm up ourselves, we enjoyed the beauty of the place covered in majestic white snow. The westwerk is really a Carolingian time capsule dating back over 1100 years and is one of the very few still existing till our times.

Tourists are scarce here and you can enjoy a historic gem in a serene atmosphere. If you want to enjoy history without time pressure, it’s definitely a place to visit.

Sources/bibliography & further read

The multilingual official site of Corvey is a good source of information, but I would like to recommend you even more the UNESCO website of Corvey.



Where to look?


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Michal got addicted to travelling at the age of seven months, when he visited his grandparents in Egypt. Since then he visited nearly one hundred countries on five continents. Passionate about history, culture, international relations and diplomacy. Speaks fluently eight languages, and understands six more. Loves to organise trips for his friends, family and everyone who is interested. Loved to pilot planes until he met the love of his life. Works for the project he believes in – the European Union. When not travelling, not working, not spending time with his family – you can find him in the gym.

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